Faculty of Education

Faculty of Education
Faculty of Education

Innovative Solution to New Age Problem

By Chris Pasqualini, B.Ed. '17

Chris with the Yonder Pouches As an aspiring educator enrolled in the Queen’s B.Ed. program I have been inside a wide variety of high school classrooms, teaching and observing almost every stream of mathematics education from grade 9 applied to grade 12 academic. Though the students in each classroom come from extraordinarily different backgrounds with unique learning goals and needs, I found that one issue they face remains consistent across the board. The prevalence of cell phone use in schools all over Ontario could be seen as a growing concern that needs addressing and as a member of the Tech Ed concentration at Queen's this issue has been at the forefront of my studies. While there are certainly some benefits to cell phone use in high schools (affordable access to educational technology for example), we mustn’t overlook the negatives that undoubtedly tag along including digital distraction, cyber bullying, cheating, student inequity and overall impact on student performance (Beland et al, 2015).

Although research has proven its effectiveness, banning cell phones outright has been seen by many as an administrative nightmare, receiving significant pushback from students and occasionally even parents. I too was perplexed by the lack of viable solutions to this new age problem until I stumbled across the Yondr Pouch.

Simplistic in design but near flawless in its implementation, the Yondr Pouch is a locking phone pouch that can aid teachers in controlling phone use in their classrooms. Once a student has locked their phone into a Yondr Pouch it can only be opened by swiping it across the magnetic docking station that a teacher would presumably keep at their desk or hidden somewhere safe until the end of class. This approach to phone regulation is unique in that while rendering the phone useless, it allows the students to maintain possession of their device mitigating the disruption and liabilities that come with phone confiscation.

I knew right away that this was something I needed to experiment with, so I reached out to Yondr reps in California and ordered my very own class set.  Over the last few months I’ve been testing the pouches in my high school placements as well as in my own curriculum classes. Collaborating with current teachers and colleagues on the many different ways this innovative product could increase focus, information retention and help students achieve higher levels of learning in school.

One of my biggest concerns was how students would react to this new concept and what I might do if they refused to willingly participate in the phone-free space I was trying to promote. Contrary to what I expected, my students were excited by the novelty of the pouches and were on board right away. After just a week of disciplinary implementation (only putting phones into pouches when I saw them rather than at the start of class) the students began to realize the control their devices had over their attention. A few students even began requesting pouches for their phones at the start of classes, telling me they could see the difference in their productivity with vs. without their phones available.

For these reasons and many more I continue to promote the Yondr pouches to educators across Queen’s and back in my home town. I appreciate and value the Queens B.ed program for providing me the opportunities and support I needed to pursue my ideas in authentic classroom environments. With further testing and guidelines for appropriate implementation for teachers, I believe the Yondr pouch will be a game changer in the education field.